Erreur Tragique (1913)

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Noirish’s humble contribution to the Allan Fish Online Film Festival!
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vt Tragic Error
France / 25 minutes / bw silent / Gaumont Dir & Scr: Louis Feuillade Cine: uncredited Cast: Suzanne Grandais, René Navarre, Marie Dorly, Ernest Bourbon, Paul Manson.

According to the opening intertitle, René, Marquis de Romiguières (Navarre), and his wife Suzanne (Grandais) are “In their chateau, built atop the battlements of the Cévennes,” where they “enjoy a wonderful honeymoon.” The atmosphere doesn’t seem terribly honeymoonish, to be honest: the couple seem to be a staid and settled pair, content to be waited upon by their elderly housekeeper (Dorly).

One day a note arrives for René from his lawyer, Panonceaux. René’s properties in Paris require some personal attention, and as soon as possible.

Stuck for a couple of days in Paris, far from the arms of his wife, René takes himself to the cinema to see Onésime, Vagabond.

Although, as far as I can establish, Onésime, Vagabond never existed outside the bounds of Erreur Tragique, it’s clearly meant to be one of the (genuine) long-running Onésime series of perhaps nearly eighty silent comedy shorts (authorities differ on the exact number) released between 1910 (Le Rembrandt de la Rue Lepic) and 1918 (Onésime et le Billet de Mille). In the English-language incarnations of these movies the character of Onésime, who was played throughout by Ernest Bourbon (1886–1954), was renamed Simple Simon, which gives you about as much as you need to know of Onésime’s personality: he’s an Innocent Abroad figure whose presence sparks off humor, sometimes quite sharp, sometimes involving social commentary, sometimes of a fantasticated nature. You can watch one of these movies, Onésime Horloger (1912), which falls into the latter category and was written by Feuillade, here (with English intertitles).

While watching Onésime, Vagabond in the Parisian cinema, René is aghast to see none other than his wife Suzanne playing a role. Worse still, the man whose arm she’s on, and who joins her in ribbing the tramp Onésime, is clearly on affectionate terms with her.

Onésime (Ernest Bourbon) clowns on a park bench in front of Suzanne (Suzanne Grandais) and the mystery man (Paul Manson).

You or I might dismiss this as a nothing—who cares if Suzanne was an actress before her marriage, and screen affection is something that actors are paid to mimic—but René falls instantly into the embrace of obsessive jealousy. He Continue reading

reblog: Goodbye Powers Boothe

Reblogged from Shades Of Noir :

 

I am saddened by the recent news of the passing of actor Powers Boothe. He had a long and varied acting career appearing on television and the big screen.  His was a face recognized by many, but perhaps his name was not as well known. As a fan of his work I knew his name. Of all the characters that he portrayed I have two clear favorites, Philip Marlowe and Gideon Malick.

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In the mid 1980’s Powers Boothe brilliantly portrayed Raymond Chandler’s iconic private eye Philip Marlowe. Two all too brief seasons of the show Philip Marlowe, Private Eye aired on HBO in 1983 and 1986. Powers Boothe seemed born to play this role. He excelled at playing the

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Mysterious Doctor, The (1943)

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How did the Headless Man choose his victims?
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US / 57 minutes / bw / Warner–First National Dir: Ben Stoloff Scr: Richard Weil Cine: Henry Sharp Cast: John Loder, Eleanor Parker, Bruce Lester, Lester Matthews, Forrester Harvey, Matt Willis, Frank Mayo, Phyllis Barry, David Clyde, Clyde Cook, Harold De Becker, Crauford Kent, Leo White.

One foggy night in darkest Cornwall a peddler (De Becker), terrified by local legends of the Headless Man—the ghost of tin miner Black Morgan, who lost his head in a dispute over the ownership of the Wickham Mine—conquers his fears enough to give a lift to a stranger, Dr. Frederick Holmes (Matthews), ostensibly on a walking tour of the English Southwest. (And a very rapid if rather aimless walker, be it noted: we later discover he was in Camborne, in Dorset, the night before, and St. Ives, in Cornwall, the night before that!)

Holmes hitches a lift from the peddler (Harold De Becker).

The peddler drops Holmes off at the Running Horse Inn in the village of Morgan’s Head. There the stranger discovers that the publican, Simon Tewkesbury (Mayo), wears a hangman-style leather hood at all times because, years ago, a stick of dynamite went off in his face. (The hood is going to play an important, albeit outlandishly implausible, part in the plot later on.)

 The foreboding figure of barman Simon Tewkesbury (Frank Mayo).

Holmes also discovers that the locals are suspicious of and resentful of visitors—

Simon: “Us folks in Morgan’s Head don’t like to be laughed at, Dr. ’Olmes. Especially by strangers we don’t.”

—unless said strangers buy drinks all round, a trick taught to Holmes by village tosspot Hugh Penrhyn (Harvey). Those drinks are our first sign that this movie, though set in England, was a US product: the beers come Continue reading

Inquest (1939)

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One of the earliest Boulting Brothers movies!
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UK / 58 minutes / bw / Charter, Grand National Dir: Roy Boulting Pr: John Boulting Scr: Francis Miller, Michael Barringer Story: Inquest (1931 play) by Michael Barringer Cine: D.P. Cooper Cast: Elizabeth Allan, Herbert Lomas, Hay Petrie, Basil Cunard, Barbara Everest, Olive Sloane, Philip Friend, Harold Anstruther, Malcolm Morley, Jean Shepherd, R. Watts-Philipp, Richard Coke, Charles Stevenson, Jack Greenwood, Peter Madren.

Bucolic scenes . . . a cricket match on the village green . . . dozing dotards and their dogs . . . ruminating cows . . . the village pub . . .

And then suddenly the spell is broken as a shot rings out.

In the attic of Cove Cottage a rummaging William Trelease (Stevenson) has Continue reading

Purple Gang, The (1959)

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A “youthful rat-pack of terrorists”!
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US / 85 minutes / bw / Allied Artists Dir: Frank McDonald Pr: Lindsley Parsons Scr: Jack DeWitt Cine: Ellis Carter Cast: Barry Sullivan, Robert Blake, Elaine Edwards, Marc Cavell, Jody Lawrance, Suzy Marquette, Joseph Turkel, Victor Creatore, Paul Dubov, Dirk London, Kathleen Lockhart, Nestor Paiva, Lou Krugman, Robert Anderson, Mauritz Hugo, Danny Mummert, John Close, Ralph Sanford, George Baxter, Paul McGuire, David Tomack, Don Haggerty, Congressman James Roosevelt.

This gives the impression—complete with pompous introduction from a political stuffed shirt—of being a dramatized documentary about the real-life Purple Gang, which terrorized Detroit during the 1920s and 1930s, but in fact its moments of consonance with the historical reality are fairly few and far between, and usually consist of the scripters merely incorporating a stray aspect of the truth in hopes it’ll somehow stand in for all the rest. Just to add to the air of divorcement from reality, while the setting is stated to be the late 1920s and the early 1930s, there’s no effort, through costume or effects, to place the action anywhere else but in the 1940s.

Congressman Roosevelt introduces our tale.

The stuffed shirt in question is Congressman James Roosevelt, Chairman (it says here) of the Committee on Narcotics of the California Delegation in the Congress of the United States, who bizarrely addresses most of his remarks not to the camera but slightly to our right of it. After he’s done, we then get a scrolled legend aiming to persuade us further of the movie’s authenticity:

This picture is based on Continue reading

reblog: Noir and the Academy Awards

***Salome Wilde of BNoirDetour is consistently amongst the very most interesting film noir commentators, and her latest essay is no exception. I disagree with her about the merits of The Big Sleep, but that’s a tiny quibble . . . and anyway I’m (I know) in the minority on this issue.

My thanks to her for letting me do this reblog.

B Noir Detour

Students of Hollywood know the origin of the Academy Awards was in part to allow a small group of Eastern European Jewish immigrants to give each other accolades at a gala affair within (or at the edges of) a culture that had excluded them from many facets of WASP privilege. Instead, these driven men had worked in the tawdry world of business, going from peddlers to salesmen to Nickelodeon owners and then, when it became clear that Edison owned the east coast, out west to found Hollywood, an alternate American dreamland where Jews could play at every country club, own posh estates in Beverly Hills, and make movies, mass entertainment that was deemed a trite, lesser art. It wouldn’t be until the Miracle Decision of 1952 that Hollywood saw both the end of the iron grip of the self-imposed but rigidly Catholic (e.g. anti-sex and antisemitic) Motion Picture Code and the…

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Crímenes, Los (2011)

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Who’s behind it all?
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The Crimes
Argentina / 19 minutes / color with some bw / Universida del Cine BA, El Curupí Dir: Santiago Esteves Pr: Ezequiel Pierri Scr: Juan Manuel Bordón, Santiago Esteves Cine: Cecilia Madorno, Agustín Mendilaharzu Cast: Edgardo Livov, Esteban Lamothe, Agustina Liendo, Oscar Bejarano, Alejandro Lingenti, Hugo Huerga.

An interesting Argentinean neonoir short about which I know very little, having come across it at Short Film Connection. It would appear to be a student movie, and yet its lead player, Esteban Lamothe, was already by 2011 a well established screen actor.

Before the opening credits we’re looking at a tranquil café scene in Buenos Aires when suddenly a gunman (Bejarano) enters the place and Continue reading

o/t: April’s leisure reading

April was supposed to be All Translations Month, but the local library produced Elizabeth Kostova’s new, Bulgaria-set novel weeks if not months earlier than I’d expected, and, bearing in mind there were likely others in the queue, I read the book immediately . . . offering myself the weak excuse that, had I not known otherwise, I might just possibly have mistaken it for a Bulgarian novel in translation. (That’s one of its strengths, in fact.)

The links are as usual to my sketchy Goodreads notes.

[*] whom the pun-deaf gurus at Goodreads list as Rampo Edogawa.

Un Crime (2006)

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A tale of single-minded obsession . . . but whose?
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vt A Crime
Canada / 99 minutes / color / ARP Sélection Dir: Manuel Pradal Pr: Michèle Pétin, Laurent Pétin Scr: Tonino Benacquista, Manuel Pradal Cine: Yorgos Arvanitis Cast: Harvey Keitel, Emmanuelle Béart, Norman Reedus, Joe Grifasi, Lily Rabe, Kim Director, Brian Tarantina, Patrick Collins, Chuck Cooper, Clem Cheung, Jonathan Lam, Ted Koch, Natalie Caron, Ben Wang, Stephen Payne, Memory Lee Cook, Karen Lynn Gorney.

In Brooklyn, Alice Parker (Béart) nurtures a powerful desire for the guy in the neighboring apartment, Vincent Harris (Reedus), but it’s an unrequited desire. All her attention-seeking behavior seems to be getting her nowhere.

Vincent (Norman Reedus) comes to bail out Alice (Emmanuelle Béart) after her latest DUI exploit.

Three years ago Vincent had a good job and a comfortable home outside New York, but late one night he got back to discover his wife Ashley (Director) brutally murdered. The only clue to her killer was that, as he approached the house, he saw an NYC yellow cab coming the other way; it had a big scrape along one side and its driver was wearing a bright red jacket and, on the ring finger of the left hand, a large stone or crystal. Later we’ll learn that Ashley had gone into NYC that day to Continue reading

o/t: the Allan Fish Online Film Festival 2017

This sixteen-day festival — in honor of the late Allan Fish, cineaste par excellence — will be running on the excellent cinema (and other stuff) website Wonders in the Dark on May 11-26: click on the image or HERE for further details of the impressive line-up of contributing writers.

For what it’s worth, my own contribution to the festival will appear on WitD on May 21 and be cross-posted here on Noirish on that same day in place of my scheduled Saturday post for May 20.